With one more round of fixtures before the new year, the Championship will be looking to sign off a brilliant 2018 with a rather big bang.
At the top, it’s shaping up to be a titanic clash of contenders, as Leeds United and Norwich City lead the pack heading for the Premier League.
Both sides have made a habit in recent weeks of pulling off miraculous comebacks to snatch points – but the Canaries will be hoping for an easier ride as they host Derby County at Carrow Road.
Daniel Farke’s side know that a win over the Rams could theoretically send them top, if Marcelo Bielsa’s Whites slip up against Hull City – but they will have to overcome Frank Lampard’s stubborn outfit, themselves firmly in the play-off mix despite defeat to Sheffield United.
It’s shaping up to be one of the closest campaigns in recent memory in the second tier – could either one make or break the other’s season in this vital encounter?
|Game||Norwich City vs Derby County|
|Date||Saturday, December 29|
|Time||3:00pm GMT / 10:00am ET|
TV Channel, Live Stream & How To Watch
In the United States (US), the game will be streamed on iFollow.
|US TV channel||Online stream|
In the UK, the game will be not broadcast but will be available as an audio stream from Rams PlayerHD.
|UK TV channel||Online stream|
Squads & Team News
|Position||Norwich City players|
|Goalkeepers||Krul, McGovern, Oxborough|
|Defenders||Aarons, Godfrey, Klose, Lewis, Hanley, Pinto|
|Midfielders||Tetley, Vrancic, Stiepermann, Cantwell, Marshall, Rhodes, Trybull, Hernandez|
|Forwards||Pukki, Morris, Srbeny|
Norwich look set to be forced to contend without Emi Buendia and Christoph Zimmerman, after the former was injured in Wednesday’s Boxing Day draw with Nottingham Forest and the latter pulled up ill in the warm-up.
Jamal Lewis may also be a doubt with a hamstring problem and Mo Leitner will be out until the end of January following ankle ligament damage.
Possible Norwich City XI: Krul; Aarons, Godfrey, Klose, Lewis; Tetley, Vrancic; Rhodes, Stiepermann, Cantwell; Pukki.
|Position||Derby County players|
|Defenders||Bogle, Keogh, Tomori, Wisdom, Pearce|
|Midfielders||Bryson, Huddlestone, Mount, Evans, Holmes, Bird|
|Forwards||Jozefzoon, Marriott, Wilson, Waghorn, Nugent|
Derby are, meanwhile, facing something of a crisis at left-back after Scott Malone was revealed to be out for the next four to six weeks with a hamstring strain.
Fellow defenders Craig Forsyth and Marcus Olsson look set to be out for the rest of the season too, while Max Lowe, on loan with Aberdeen, is also injured.
Possible Derby County XI: Carson; Bogle, Keogh, Tomori, Wisdom; Bryson, Huddlestone, Mount; Jozefzoon, Marriott, Wilson.
Betting & Match Odds
Norwich are 11/10 favourites to win the match at bet365. Derby can be backed at 23/10, while a draw is priced at 5/2.
Three years on from relegation from the top tier of English football, Norwich City look to be in prime position to secure a return to the Premier League as the Championship season ticks over halfway.
Daniel Farke’s Canaries have developed a reputation for free-flowing football that has seen them go unbeaten since October and lifted them to second place in the second tier.
They sit only behind Leeds United, three points off Marcelo Bielsa’s Whites – and three points ahead of third-placed West Brom, neatly sandwiching them into the automatic promotion spots.
There is still a long way to go of course, but Norwich have plenty of reason to be cautiously optimistic of ending their exodus from the top table.
They’ll need to keep an excellent run of form intact, however, when they host Frank Lampard’s Derby County, themselves in the hunt for a shot at the Premier League.
The Rams lie currently sixth, having gone down 3-1 to fellow play-off hopefuls Sheffield United on Boxing Day, but their manager will be determined to bounce back in emphatic fashion by upsetting the equilibrium at Carrow Road.
With a host of defensive injuries though, they’ll have to double up at the back to keep out that lethal Canaries attack if they hope to take the points home back up the M1.